Buying used baby gear: What you need to know

May 27, 2009 at 11:51 p.m. ET

Having a baby isn't cheap. Between clothes (baby needs a new wardrobe every three months?!?) and gear, it can get pretty pricey. It's tempting to purchase gently used items to help keep costs low. But before you maneuver that like-new honey pine convertible crib into your car, there are some things you need to know.

Various Baby Items

Money-savvy parents know that consignment stores, garage sales, Goodwill stores and web-based sites like Freecycle, Craigslist's free section, eBay and Zwaggle can be hot beds for low-cost, high-quality baby necessities.

But buying used isn't always the way to go. Some items are better bought new for safety reasons. "To play it even safer, make sure any used baby product you're considering or hasn't been recalled. (For the latest recall information, visit When buying new, send in the registration card so you'll be alerted to any recalls automatically," says Sandra Gordon, author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products.

Research is extremely important, agrees design expert Kathy Peterson. She also suggests checking the condition of the items.

Baby gear: Crib


The baby needs a place to sleep.

Should you buy used?

Probably not. "If you must [buy] an older crib, avoid those built before 2000, about a year after the latest voluntary standards for slat-attachment strength took effect," Gordon says.

FYI: Crib slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart.

BABY GEAR: clothes


Because a baby needs to be clothed!
Should you buy used?

Yes. "Used baby clothing is a great way to save money if [it's] in good condition," Peterson says. Look for end of season sales at consignment stores to stock up on seasons for next year.

BABY GEAR: Play yard


Play yards have some good bonuses: they are portable and can go to anywhere. Many also come with bassinet attachments, so it can be a good first bed for baby.

Should you buy used?

Like cribs, play yards have changed with the evolving knowledge of what's safe. "Older, used models may have a top-rail hinge that can collapse, forming a steep, V-shaped angle that puts children at risk of being trapped or strangled," Gordon says.

BABY GEAR: Car seats


Kids from birth through grades school need to be safe while riding in the car.

Should you buy used?

No. "A used seat may have been in a crash or recalled. The manufacturer's instructions may be missing. If you must use a secondhand seat, avoid those … that are older than 6 years. In the world of car seats, a 6-year-old model is a relic—and risky," Gordon says.

BABY GEAR: Breast pumps


You are likely to need one if you are going to be breastfeeding for an extended period and will need to be away from baby for any length of time.

Should you buy used?

Never. "Using a preowned pump is like sharing someone else's toothbrush. It's unhygienic," Gordon says.

Rentals are an option, but if you are going to need one for more than a month or two, it's more cost-effective to buy.

BABY GEAR: Infant carriers


Not everyone uses these, but they are handy when you are out and about and don't want to use a stroller.

Should you buy used?

You can, but make sure you do your research. "Strap-on carriers and slings have been subject to recalls, so buy new to ensure that you're carrying your baby safely," Gordon said.



Babies need stimulation.

Should you buy used?

Definitely. Look for clean, gently used toys. Always wash them before handing over to baby.

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